10 Ways Your Waiting Room Can Improve Customer Service

Our industry is changing, patients have more choices than ever before. Competing with box stores and online companies on price is futile. Customer service is going to be a bigger factor than ever before. Let’s start with the minute your patient enters your office. What can you do to improve their experience?

1. Provide a basket of reading glasses: What’s worse than having reading material but not being able to read it? Or needing to fill out paperwork but accidentally leaving your reading glasses at home.

2. A place for wet umbrellas: You don’t want patients lugging wet umbrellas all over your office, and they don’t want to be carrying them either! This is a win-win for both of you.

3. A basket of dollar store umbrellas and rain hats for rainy/snowy days: This is a memorable customer service moment for patients. The skies open, they’re unprepared but voila you get to play the hero. Purchase ones from the dollar store (rain hats are a good buy too) that way if they’re never returned, you won’t care.

4. A Keurig with real cups: Being able to choose your type of drink (not everyone is a coffee drinker) and drinking from a “real” cup provides a measure of comfort while you’re waiting in a sometimes intimidating place.

5. TV: TV’s are pretty standard in waiting rooms these days. Make sure yours is tuned in to something your patients will actually enjoy watching.

6. Wi-Fi: You already have it in your office, why not make a guest log-in for your patients so they can get something done or play a game while they wait? You can hang a small sign near the reception desk with the log in and password for your patients’ convenience.

7. Good tissues: Sometimes a patient needs to blow their nose, colds, seasonal allergies and so on. Don’t supply patients with cheap, scratchy tissues.

8. Reading material that is meant to entertain not educate your patients: Yes, having reading material about hearing loss/hearing aids shows you’re in the loop, but when spending time in a waiting room, people want to be entertained.

9. Coat rack: Don’t make your patients carry around their heavy winter coats or wet rain jackets.

10. Comfortable temperature: It’s tempting to want to keep costs low, along with the temperate in the winter or to keep a warmer office in the summer months. Make sure your patients are comfortable remember they have options.

Lastly, check, double check… triple check the demeanor of your staff. Your waiting room could provide a phenomenal patient experience, but one rude/unfriendly staff member will ruin the entire experience for your patient.

Are You Providing Your Patients With the Best Customer Service?

Customer service is not solely one area of your business. Always remember that you are in business to serve your patients. Without them, you won’t be in business much longer. Being able and willing to deal with all kinds of customers. Having them walk away from an interaction satisfied, if not happy, should be your ultimate customer service goal. The nine points below will help you with that goal and improve your overall customer service experience.

1. Patience is a Virtue

Understand that patients often reach out to you when they are confused or upset. Although it is not you personally that they are frustrated with, it may seem that way. It can be especially frustrating when a patient cannot understand concepts that seem simple to you. Remember to be patient with every customer and help them to the best of your ability. You’re the patient’s rock, and you need to hold it together even when they can’t.

2. Be Attentive, Actively Listen

Listening is one of the simplest secrets of customer service. Listening means hearing what your patients are saying out loud, as well as what they are communicating non-verbally. Watch for signs that they are displeased, as well as what they say to you directly. Patients want to be heard just as much as they want their problems solved.

3. Knowledge is Power

Remember you’re not selling products and services, you’re selling good feelings and solutions to problems. In order to provide good customer service, you need to know what you’re selling, inside and out. Make sure you know how your products work. Be aware of the most common questions patients ask about your products, and know how to articulate the answers.

4. Positive Language Changes Everything

An example illustrates this best. Let’s say a customer contacts you with an interest in a particular product, but that product happens to be backordered until next month. Small changes that utilize “positive language” can greatly affect how the customer hears your response…
• Without positive language: “I can’t get you that product until next month; it is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
• With positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as                     soon as it reaches our warehouse.”
The second example states the exact same thing as the first, but focuses on how you will resolve the customers problem of getting the backordered product, instead of focusing on the problem that the product is backordered.

5. Closing is Key

And I don’t mean “closing” a sale. A patient’s feelings at the end of a customer service interaction can determine their feelings about your products, service, or company as a whole. Make sure to end every customer service conversation with confirmed satisfaction (or as close to it as you can achieve) and with the customer feeling that everything has been taken care of (or will be). Being scooted out of the office before all of their problems have been addressed is the last thing that patients want. Be sure to take the time to confirm with customers that each and every issue they had on deck has been entirely resolved.

6. Appreciate Your Customers

Patients are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feelings and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you, and thank them every chance you get.

7. “Yes” Is a Powerful Word

Always look for ways to help your patients, and look for ways to make doing business with you easy.  When customers have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it, and figure out how afterwards. Always do what you say you are going to do, but don’t over promise. If something is absolutely out of your control, send them to someone who can actually do something about it. The worst thing you can do is say yes to a request and then go back on your promise.

This is why you shouldn’t use the “under promise & over deliver” strategy for customer service.

8. Collect Feedback & Use It!

You may be surprised what you learn about your patients and their needs when you ask them what they think of your business, products, and services. You can use surveys, feedback forms and questionnaires. You can also make it a common practice to ask customers first-hand for feedback when they are in the office. But you need to do something with the feedback you receive in order to make it useful in your customer service process. Take time to regularly review feedback, identify areas for improvement, and make specific changes in your business.

9. Your Employees Are Customers

It’s important to make sure all of your employees, not just your customer-facing employees, understand the way they should talk to, interact with, and problem solve for customers. Provide employee training that gives your staff the tools they need to carry good customer service through the entire patient experience. If you treat your employees with great service, they will be more equipped to model that for your customers. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for patients. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating patients and employees well is equally important.